Extract from A Literary Tour of Italy

I arrived in Italy in 1981 with barely a word of Italian. My strategy for learning the language was simple. Each afternoon, between my morning and evening teaching, I spent three or four hours in Verona’s main public library reading novels and writing down every word I didn’t know, every syntactical structure I wasn’t familiar with, then trying out what I had learned in conversations with my long-suffering wife.
Since the task was arduous at first, I began with contemporary writers who used a fairly simple style – Natalia Ginzburg, Alberto Moravia, Carlo Cassola – then began to look at the more difficult writers of the day, Elsa Morante, Italo Calvino and the young Aldo Busi. Later, as my Italian improved, I went backward in time: the war years – Pavese, Fenoglio, Brancati – the early 20th century – Svevo, D’Annunzio, Pirandello – the 19th century with its extraordinary riches, Verga, Manzoni, Nievo, Foscolo and for the first time a poet, Giacomo Leopardi.
There I stopped a while, since to go back further is to find an Italian that is quite different from the Italian of today. I had been in Italy at least ten years before I finally read Boccaccio and Dante in the original, at which point one felt one had arrived at bedrock, the support that underpinned, or at least conditioned all the rest.


So my slow discovery of Italy, where I never really planned to live, though now it seems I have spent all my adult life here, went hand in hand with a long exploration of the country’s literature. I thus came to realize, in a way I never really had during my literary studies in England and America, how profoundly a people’s character and destiny are bound up with and reflected by its literature. The Italy I was learning to deal with day by day, house-buying, holidaying and tax-paying, talking to in-laws and public officials, fellow fans at the football stadium, doctors, mechanics and shopkeepers, was the Italy of Gadda and Pascoli and Bassani, the Italy of The Betrothed, The Malavoglia, The Leopard. Literary criticism, and particularly the variety that developed around modernism, encourages readers, and above all students, to look at a text as something sovereign and separate from its surrounding world and even the writer who had written it. As I grew into Italy through the 1980s and 90s, I became powerfully aware that, on the contrary, context is vital to understanding literature and that the novels themselves mean more and are more rewarding when seen together, read in relation to each other and to the world that produced them.


The most determining aspect of context where literature is concerned is of course language. Those who know and have lived in a second language will be aware that they think and behave and express themselves somewhat differently when moving away from their mother tongue. Identity shifts; if language does not absolutely drive thought, it certainly conditions our thinking. The very feeling of the words and the nuances they express are aligned with centuries of history and collective behaviour. The English word ‘proper’ which subtly aligns morality with social decorum and even class distinction has no parallel in Italian. Similarly English translations of the Italian words furbo (sly) and pignolo (fussy) convey none of the rich social humus these words immediately evoke in the Italian mind. In 1985, when I began my first literary translation, Moravia’s Erotic Tales, I was finally bound to take this reflection on board, to realize how profoundly any piece of prose changes when subtracted from the enchantment of the language it was conceived in. To a large extent it is the language, as much as the content and originating environment, that puts writers and their work in intimate relation to each other.


From the earliest days in Italy I had found myself being asked to translate. I translated sales brochures for bank safes and industrial ovens, installation manuals for diesel filter factories, a trade paper for the Italian stone industry, catalogues for art shows, a fashion magazine for designer shoes. This turned out to be the best possible preparation for translating literature, since there is no strict distinction between literary language and language tout court. Over the next ten years I translated Moravia, Calvino, Tabucchi, Calasso and many others, while later I would be invited to offer a new version of Machiavelli’s The Prince and to translate a selection from Leopardi’s great diary, the Zibaldone. Not only did this bring me closer to these writers and the way they wrote, it also led to one of the greatest strokes of fortune in my working life. The New York Review of Books began to invite me to write about Italian authors. Generously, they entrusted me with a consideration of a new translation of the complete works of Nobel winner Eugenio Montale. Amazingly, they waited the full year it took me to read the poet in original and translation and feel I was ready to say something about him. Thus began the collection you now have in your hands.


From the beginning I was eager to make these pieces something more than one-off reviews. I wanted to give readers a sense of the Italian world the writer moved in and how he or she positioned him or herself in relation to the main issues of the day, and indeed those issues which go far beyond the day and seem inseparable from Italianness itself, a particular way of framing problems of illusion and reality, a powerful tension between the imperatives of political action and the desire to be spared involvement of any kind. I wanted the pieces to call to each other as indeed the writers themselves call to each other and become fully themselves when read together. I wanted them to become a book, a whole.


Not all of these pieces speak specifically of literature. There are reflections on Mazzini, Garibaldi and Mussolini, figures who still play important roles in Italy’s collective imagination. There is a discussion of a movement of painters, the Divisionists, who sought to find a particularly Italian way of making modern art. There is – and it’s one my favourites – a portrait of the gloomy and brilliant painter Mario Sironi, who, amongst many other things, became Fascism’s most prestigious and influential artist and designer. The fact is that as Italy finally became a nation in 1861 literature and art were called upon to reinforce the ‘official’ Italian language, then spoken by only five percent of the population, and to give the new nation a modern identity. Even where writers rejected this project – one thinks of Pavese – they could not help being in relation to it. Any Italian novels from the 19th and 20th century take on a whole new richness when one becomes aware of the idealisms and scepticisms of the day. The Garden of the Finzi Contini means more if we understand the national debate the need for intellectuals to participate in public life and indeed Bassani’s own involvement in the Action Party. Verga’s novellas carry an even greater pathos when seen in the context of a desire to bring regional identities into the national mind set.


It was not easy to decide exactly what shape this collection should have, which authors to include and which to leave out. The book was never conceived as offering an overview of all major Italian authors, more as a reflection of my own literary explorations over the years. In particular, I decided not to include contemporary novelists. There has definitely been a marked shift in Italian writing since the 1980s and the death of the generation that included Moravia and Bassani, Ginzburg and Morante. Rapid globalization has created a situation where 70% of the novels in Italian bookshops are translated, most of them from English. A writer growing up in post-war Italy would have begun to think of literature as an international rather than national phenomena while at the same time being aware of the disastrous failure of Italian nationalism under Mussolini. So one has the feeling that many Italian novelists today – Ammaniti, Ferrante, De Carlo, Saviano – write with a new awareness of an international audience as if mediating between different worlds, accommodating a readership which is not entirely familiar with Italy. This does not make them any less Italian, but part of a new reality. It seemed, if nothing else, a useful cut off point, and perhaps an excuse for a second project focused entirely on contemporary Italians.

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  79. Michelle J

    Hello,

    This is an important public service announcement concerning our future well being. I found this information very interesting and should be read by everyone. Please take the time to look it over:

    We are approaching a future in which they will mandate us to have an RFID microchip placed in our body. This chip will hold all our personal information, and we will lose much more of our privacy because of the tracking capabilities.

    Did you know this chip matches perfectly with Biblical prophecy? Please read!

    “He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

    Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666” (Revelation 13:16-18 NKJV).

    Referring to the end times, this could only be speaking of a cashless money society, which we have yet to see, but are heading towards. Otherwise we could still buy or sell without the mark among others if physical money was still currency. This mark could not be spiritual, because the word references two distinct physical locations. If it was spiritual, it would only say in the forehead.

    We can see throughout the history of time how we are being conditioned through the process of convenience. More specifically with how we make payments. We went from physical currency to credit and debit cards containing digital currency, to these cards having a microchip in them, to now being able to place your card near a device that will read its data. As well as self check-out lines in our market places and the cryptocurrency industry making a rapid climb in such form as bitcoin. These are all stepping stones for the powers that run this world to bring about their ultimate goal, that is to place a microchip in each and every one of us.

    RFID chip implant technology is on the horizon and will be the future of a one world cashless money society.

    Continue reading to see how it perfectly matches up with Bible prophecy!

    From a YouTube video titled, “Warning From Man Who Designed RFID Microchip”

    Here are some notes from the video:

    “Carl Sanders attended seventeen New World Order meetings with heads-of-state officials such as Henry Kissinger and Bob Gates of the C.I.A. to discuss their agenda on how to bring about this one-world system. The government commissioned Mr. Sanders to design a microchip for identifying and controlling the peoples of the world-a microchip that could be inserted under the skin with a hypodermic needle(a quick, convenient process that would be gradually accepted by society).

    Carl Sanders, with a group of engineers behind him, with U.S. grant monies supplied by US tax dollars, took on this challenge and designed a chip that is powered by a lithium battery, rechargeable by the temperature fluctuations in our skin. Without the knowledge of the Bible(Sanders was not a follower of Jesus at the time), these engineers spent one-and-a-half-million dollars doing research on the best and most convenient place to have the microchip inserted.

    These researchers found that the forehead and the back of the hand(the two spots Revelation says the mark will go) are not only the most convenient locations, but are also the only viable spots for rapid, consistent temperature fluctuations in the skin to recharge the lithium battery. The RFID microchip is approximately seven millimeters in length, .75 millimeters in diameter, about the size of a grain of rice. It is capable of holding pages of information about you. All your general history, work history, crime record, health history, and financial data can be stored on this chip.

    Carl Sanders believes that this microchip, which he regretfully helped engineer, is the “mark” spoken about in Revelation 13:16-18. The original Greek word for “mark” is “charagma,” which means a “scratch or etching.” It is also interesting to note that the number 666 is actually a word in the original Greek. The word is “chi xi stigma,” with the last part, “stigma,” also meaning “to stick or prick.”

    Brother Sanders spoke with a doctor asking what would occur if the lithium contained within the RFID microchip leaked into the body. The doctor responded by saying a terrible sore would appear in that spot. This is what the book of Revelation has to say: “And the first(Angel) went, and poured out his vial on the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore on the men which had the mark of the beast, and on them which worshipped his image” (Revelation 16:2).

    WHAT IS THE NAME OF THE BEAST, THE NUMBER OF ITS NAME? THE MYSTERY OF THE NUMBER 666 REVEALED?

    What I first want to mention, before I share my thoughts on the number of the beast, is that God confirms in threes. We can see this all throughout scripture: “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one” (1 John 5:7 NKJV). “and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:4 NKJV). “…Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8 NKJV). There are many more examples, but I thought I would just share three of them to make the point.

    Looking at Revelation 13:16-18, the first group of three I would like to bring to attention is that the mark of the beast is described in three separate verses, 16, 17 and 18. The next three I see is in verse 16, “He causes all…” is followed by three contrasting categories of people, “both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave…”. Then unto verse 17, it opens with, “and that no one may buy or sell except one who has…”, followed by three explanations of what one must have to buy or sell, “…the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name”. Then in verse 18, we read “Let him who has understanding calculate…”, which is followed by, “the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666”. The last three I see is the number 6 being used three times in a row. The reason I’m making this point is because of the number 666, as you will read below.

    “17: even that not any could buy or sell, except the one having the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of its name” (Literal Greek Translation).

    Here we see the mark being identified as having the name of the beast, and that name being identified as being a number. We can know that these attributes being described in verse 17 are all in one thing because the Bible warns of us about receiving the mark, singular. It is clear in verse 17 that we cannot buy or sell without the mark(being previously identified as a microchip), but why cant we buy or sell without the name of the beast, or the number of its name? What does that have to do with us buying or selling if the number of the beast only applies to identifying the Antichrist, as the common thought has been? So we need the number of the beast to buy or sell. What does this mean?

    “here the wisdom is, the one having the mind let him calculate the number of the wild beast, number for of human it is, and the number of it 666” (Revelation 13:8 Greek Translation).

    “Here is wisdom. Let him that has understanding count the number of the beast: for the number of man; and its number is six hundred sixty-six” (Jubilee Bible 2000 translation).

    “In this situation wisdom is needed. Let the person who has insight figure out the number of the beast, because it is a human number. The beast’s number is 666” (GOD’S WORD translation).

    The Greek word “anthrōpos” being used in verse 18 where it says “of human” is the Greek strongs concordance G444. The first two definitions of the word are “a human being, whether male or female”, and, “generically, to include all human individuals”. Could the number of the beast apply to all mankind? In the Greek, and other translations, you will notice the beast is described as an “it”, instead of “him”. The reason I’m making this point is because when a translation says “His number is 666”, this would imply a singular person, the Antichrist. But by saying “the number of it 666”, implies that it is of the beast system as a whole.

    Throughout the years there have been people trying to calculate numbers based on titles and names that come up to the number 666 to identify one person. But from verse 18, I do not see where God is telling us to count up to 666, but rather to count the number of the beast. This number is identified as 666. So the verse is telling us to count the number 666.

    What does it mean to count? It means to add up. So how could we add up 666? Remember my previous point about God confirming in threes. So logically, what would be the best way to count the number 666? To count it equally in threes based off the number. We cannot count it equally as 600+60+6, this would also bring us back to the start. We cannot count it as 600+600+600, or 60+60+60, because there are no zeroes in between or at the end of 666. The only option is 6+6+6=18. What is interesting is that the verse that reveals for us to count the number itself is verse 18, being the third verse out of three verses that describe the mark of the beast. What is 18 divided by 3? 6. So 3×6=18, or 6+6+6=18.

    Another interesting point is the only two other combinations(making a total of three possible combinations) for placing a “+” symbol in between the 6’s are 66+6=72, and 6+66=72. Adding 7+2 and 7+2 equals 18. Add both 72’s together and you get 144. Why the number 144 is interesting is because the verse following Revelation 13:18 is the first time in the Bible where the 144,000 are being described in detail: “Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads…” (Revelation 14:1).

    Now if you add up all three numbers by counting 666 by moving the “+” symbol around, it would be 72+72+18=162. What is interesting about the number 162, is, if you divide 144,000 by 162, you get 888. The name of Jesus in Greek gematria adds up to 888. Revelation 14:1 not only mentions the 144,000, but also the Lamb who is Jesus.

    Applying the same format that I used with calculating the number 666, in which I got the numbers 144 and 162, they also bring interesting results bringing us to the number 18:

    – 14+4=18*

    – 16+2=18*

    – 1+4+4=(9), 1+6+2=(9), (9+9)=18*

    – 1+44=(45), 1+62=(63), (4+5)=9, (6+3)=9, 9+9=18* | (45+63)=108, 10+8=18*

    – 14+4=(18), 1+44=(45), (1+8)=9, (4+5)=9, 9+9=18* | (18+45)=[63] | 16+2=(18), 1+62=(63), (1+8)=9, (6+3)=9, 9+9=18* | (18+63)=[81] | [6+3]=9, [8+1]=9, 9+9=18* | [63+81]=144

    – 1+4+4=(9), 14+4=(18), 1+44=(45), (9+18+45)=[72] (any two combinations of (9, 18, 45, and 72 will add to 18*) | 1+6+2=(9), 16+2=(18), 1+62=(63), 9+18+63=[90] (any two combinations of (9, 18, 63, and 90 will get you 18*) | [7+2]=9, [9+0]=9, 9+9=18* | [72+90]=162

    Now what is interesting about the number for Jesus, 888, is that if you apply this same formula, you get 8+8+8=24. Why the number 24? Revelation chapter 4 tells us there are 24 elders seated around the throne of God. This is the same throne where Jesus sits.

    Now if you take 8+8+8=24, and 8+88=96, and 88+8=96, you get 24+96+96=216. Take 144,000 divided by 216 and you get 666. Remember that this was the same exact formula to get the number 162 out of counting 666 that brought about the number 888 when dividing 144,000 by 162. It is perpetual.

    With using the same formula of counting by adding the “+” symbol in between the numbers, why do all these numbers relate in such a way?

    Another interesting point to note is that if you add up all the numbers from 1 to 36, it totals 666. The number 36, as in three sixes? Could this be a hint that we should add up three sixes instead of perceiving the number as six-hundred sixty six?

    How does this all tie together? Well we know in this world we are identified by numbers in various forms. From our birth certificate to social security, as well as our drivers license, being identified based on a structure of rulership. So it is plausible that the RFID microchip will contain a new identification that has a total of 18 characters. Could this be the name of the beast, the number of its name? The beast system that is identified by 18 characters? This would correlate with scripture that speaks of a mark that we must have to buy or sell in our right hand or forehead, and that it also contains the number of the beast, during a future cashless society.

    Revelation 13:11-15 tells us that a false prophet will rise up deceiving many to take the mark of the beast because of the miracles he does before those dwelling on Earth. At all costs do not take it!

    “Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name” (Revelation 14:9-11).

    Did you hear about the person from a major media outlet who reported a major event occurring approximately 20 minutes before it actually happened?

    It’s time we are told.

    A reporter from BBC reported the fall of World Trade Center 7 on September 11th 2001 approximately 20 minutes before it fell!

    Remember, WTC 7 did not get hit by anything, so there would be no reason to assume it would collapse. But she didn’t report on assumption, but that it in fact did collapse!

    How do you explain this? How do we explain this? The only logical explanation is that the power that orchestrated 9/11 is the same power that controls the major media outlets!

    Don’t believe me? Watch the broadcast yourself posted on YouTube titled: “BBC Reports 911, WTC 7 Collapse BEFORE it Happens”

    It gets even worse…

    Did you know there is other footage they don’t want us to see twice? I’m speaking of footage on the day of September 11th 2001 during the time the planes hit both Trade Towers. Eye witness reports say the following concerning the planes:

    – “No, it wasn’t a commercial airliner”
    – “…but it didn’t have any markings on it that I saw”
    – “no emblems, no logos”
    – “It definitely did not look like a commercial plane”
    – “I did not see any windows on the sides”
    – “It was a black plane, it looked like a fighter jet”
    – “It was black, it looks like a military plane”
    – “It was a military plane”

    This video also shares testimonies from firefighters who share their experience being in the world trade towers as bombs were exploding(to weaken the steel beams of the buildings to allow the free fall collapse).

    As a terrorist, how could you smuggle bombs into the trade towers with all of its security systems which includes bomb sniffing dogs? Also, if terrorists did plant the bombs, then why weren’t we told about the bombs?!

    You can watch a video of this on YouTube by titled: “9/11 – THE FOOTAGE THEY DIDN’T LET YOU SEE TWICE (9/11 2001 Documentary)”

    What about the attack on the Pentagon? Was it really a plane that hit it, or something else, maybe a missle?

    Why did the FBI go around and confiscate camera footage from the surrounding buildings not releasing them to the public when they clearly showed us the planes that hit the world trade towers?

    Why was the only footage shown to the public from one of the most heavily guarded buildings in the world low quality footage showing only five frames at about one frame per second?

    The U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld admitted the day before the attack that the Pentagon was missing 2.3 trillion dollars. Could this attack on the Pentagon have anything to do with covering up that information?

    So what conclusion is this coming to? What is the purpose of this major event that occurred on 9/11? Why did we go to war with Afghanistan and Iraq?

    David Rockefeller is quoted to be saying:

    “Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure–one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.” – David Rockefeller, Memoirs

    Another video to watch is an infamous interview done with movie producer Aaron Russo titled, “Aaron Russo RFID Human Implant Chip”

    Aaron Russo produced such movies as Mad as Hell, Trading Places, and America: Freedom to Fascism. He gained the attention of a man named Nick Rockefeller who saw the movie Made as Hell and knew Aaron was running for governor of Nevada. Knowing the impact Aaron was having on society, who being a freedom fighter standing for the constitution of the United States, Nick sought to befriend him to subtly recruit him into his secret society.

    Aaron shares what Nick had told him:

    “He’s the one who told me 11 months before 9/11 ever happened that there was going to be an event. He never told me what the event was going to be…and out of that event we were going to invade Afghanistan to run pipelines from the Caspian Sea. We are going to invade Iraq to take over the oil fields to establish a base in the middle east, and make it all part of the New World Order…”

    “I remember he was telling me how he was going to see soldiers looking in caves for people in Afghanistan and Pakistan and all these places. And there was going to be this war on terror, where this is no real enemy, and the whole thing is a giant hoax. But it is a way for the government to take over the American people…”

    Aaron asked Nick, “What’s the end goal? And he said the end goal is to get everyone chipped to control the whole society. To have the bankers, the elite people controlling the world…”

    Visit https://WWW.BIBLEFREEDOM.COM to see all the proof! It is at the point where it takes more faith not to believe that the Bible truly is the word of God!

    You will see proof for Noah’s Ark, the Red Sea Crossing, Sodom and Gromorrah, scientific evidence the Bible is inspired by God, testimonies from all walks of life concerning Jesus, and much more!

    “EITHER HUMAN INTELLIGENCE ULTIMATELY OWES ITS ORIGIN TO MINDLESS MATTER OR THERE IS A CREATOR…” – JOHN LENNOX

    For some time, the dominate theory in the scientific community was that the universe was eternal, without a beginning. As progression was made, the final conclusion came to be that the universe is expanding from a single point known as the Big Bang, in which space, time and matter all came into existence at that single event.

    This troubled scientists who’s worldview was purely naturalistic, as this notion concludes that what caused the universe to come into existence must be spaceless, timeless, and inmateral, favoring the Biblical God.

    The non-biblical religions tell us that god or god’s create within space and time that eternally exist. The Bible stands alone and says that time and space don’t exist until God creates the universe.

    The Bible tells us that God is a Spirit who fills the Earth, the heavens, and the Heavens of Heavens cannot contain Him. That He dwells in unaproachable light, being eternal with no beginning. This is the type of being who could cause the universe to come into existence. This also fits with reason that there must be an uncaused cause, otherwise you are left with an infinite regression in which idea is not logically coherent.

    The Bible also states in multiple places that God stretches out the heavens, thousands of years before scientists discovered an expanding universe.

    Ask yourself, if there is a God, wouldn’t He be personal, because we as His creation are personal? Wouldn’t He have reached out to us by now? Wouldn’t His word be the most read and translated in the history of the world, full of predictive prophecies? The Bible is that word!

    “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” – Robert Jastrow, astronomer

    Jesus says we must be born again to enter the kingdom of God (John 3). In our sins, we are spiritually dead. Therefore we must be born from above by the Spirit of God to be made alive again.

    I hope this information has convinced you of the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation of your soul. All religion is man-made, and the Bible warns that there will be many false doctrines that will spread throughout the world. Jesus calls us to pick up our cross and follow Him. Not any religion or denomination. He wants us to have a relationship with our Father in Heaven, to worship Him in spirit and in truth.

    Jesus says narrow is the way that leads to life, and few be there that find it (Matthew 7:13-14). Will you humble yourself before the Lord tonight in prayer, acknowledging that you need a savior? He is faithul to forgive. Keep asking Him for the Holy Spirit, so you may receive the Spirit of Christ, giving you a new heart, and He will lead you into all truth.

    “He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

    Place your trust and hope in Jesus Christ. Today is the day of salvation, for you are not promised tomorrow!

    Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

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